As Saudi Arabia’s genocidal military campaign against Yemen piles up bodies, the European Parliament finally voted to demand an arms embargo against the barbaric Muslim nation…after selling the dictatorship billions of dollars’ worth of weapons with the full knowledge that it would use them to target civilians.
The resolution put forward by the European Union (EU) called the Saudi coalition’s bombings and air attacks against Yemeni civilians “war crimes.” The organization passed the resolution by an almost 100% vote of 539 for and 13 against. In a prepared statement after its passage, the parliament said it “condemns in the strongest terms the ongoing violence in Yemen and all attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, which constitute war crimes.”In a previous statement, on November 11, the EU said the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led military assault had effectively closed air, sea and land entry points to Yemen, which would likely soon lead to a complete lack of food and supplies of all kinds for those in the country. Even UN life-saving flights had been blocked to the country, adding to the seriousness of the situation.
As the World Food Programme noted at the end of November, “Yemen is on the brink of famine. Cholera is compounding a dramatic food crisis. Food is being used as a weapon of war.”
That weapon has already hurt more than two million children through a lack of proper nourishment. More than 500,000 children are also hurt or sick (or both), requiring medical attention just to stay alive.
The Saudi attacks on Yemen started in March 2015 as an attempt to support Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the Saudi puppet president who was being challenged directly by Houthi forces seeking independence from U.S. and Saudi domination while accepting limited support from Iran. The Houthi-aligned freedom fighters have been the focus of the Saudis’ ravaging of the country. Since that time, more than 10,000 civilians have been killed and 40,000 injured. Hospitals, schools, roads, water supplies, power sources and more have been destroyed in the process. Most of all, those deaths, the maiming and the destruction had little to do with the political fighting going on within the country.
The current resolution also came down hard on members of the EU who had effectively aided the Saudi-led forces “behind the scenes.” Despite EU laws on arms export control, several EU countries were continuing to authorize weapons sales, many of which were likely put directly into the hands of those managing the slaughter of the Yemenis.
The British government is one of the worst co-conspirators in the situation. In 2015, the year the Saudi attacks began, it authorized up to £3 billion worth of arms to be sold to Saudi Arabia. The UK government has also been accused of more direct involvement, by providing military personnel to help train Saudi forces on their own grounds and operate advanced weapons systems.
That support continues in multiple forms today, despite the reckless damage it is causing. The United
Kingdom’s own Richard Howitt, the Labour MEP who wrote the amendment voted on in this session, said about the current vote, “This is a clear humanitarian appeal to end the bloodshed in Yemen and call on Saudi Arabia to pursue a political rather than a military solution to the conflict.” He went on to remind all involved that “the UK is one of the biggest suppliers of arms to Saudi Arabia and needs to heed this call, which has been overwhelmingly supported across the political spectrum and by a vast citizen campaign.”
Many are doubtful that the call will even be heard, let alone heeded. The UK government is very much controlled by the international war industry, just as the U.S. is.
As a measure of the lack of resolve within the EU, there was an earlier draft of the current resolution that named specific member states, such as the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Germany, as countries actively aiding the Saudi-led terrorist attacks on Yemen. To get it passed, the language was softened considerably. It now reads only that “some EU member states” have continued to authorize weapons transfers and sales to Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the 2015 attacks, in direct violation of the EU’s rules on arms control.
The resolution is also non-binding and therefore mostly meaningless. Despite the apparent unanimity of the EU in condemning Saudi Arabia for its actions, then, the most important part of the message – that EU member nations need to stop feeding the Saudi war machine against Yemen – has no teeth. The weapons sales and behind-the-scenes training and support will continue.
And the most that the European Parliament will have to say about it is that it doesn’t like what the Saudis are doing in Yemen with the military aircraft, weapons, bullets and training. It may make the MEPs feel better to have condemned the actions, but it would have been far better if they had also constrained their own actions. Even if the EU stops fueling the atrocities in Yemen, the killing will not stop. The United States is by far the largest contributor to the Saudi death machine and is itself actively waging war against civilians in Yemen on its own. Trump has no intention of reducing these attacks against Yemen, or the arms flow to Saudi Arabia or the taxpayer-funded support of the Saudi military. For Trump and his gang, war is merely a very profitable business.